The press days at 85th Geneva motor show are over, so it’s time for us to ponder which cars really lit a fire in the cockles of our hearts, and which ones prompted us to sharpen our poison-soaked spears to seek Oberyn Martell-style revenge on the world.
A bit dramatic? Maybe…
Here are our 2015 Geneva motor show hits and misses.
Mike Costello – from the show floor
Hit: Audi R8 e-tron. Yes, the second-generation R8 has an evolutionary look, and the iconic side blade is no more, but in the flesh it looks brilliant, with subtle surfacing and proportions to die for. Give me this carbonfibre Teutonic beast over its Lamborghini Huracan cousin any day.
And it’s the e-tron electric version with its 900Nm-plus of torque, 450km range and 3.9-second 0-100km/h sprint time that is the most interesting, if only for the fact that Audi’s technical guru Ulrich Hackenberg is using it as a test bed for Audi’s future EV technology as it gears up to smack back at impetuous Tesla with its very own (as-yet unseen) Model S rival.
Miss: Now to be controversial. I was in Geneva for the show, and as always it makes a big difference to see cars in the metal rather than in a photo.
In the metal, the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 coupe looks like a slightly stunned fish swimming away from an even more stunned shark. Yes, okay, the overall design is elegant and muscular, but those dopey headlights and garish grille that simply doesn’t belong on a car like this ruin the experience. This is one fish I’d throw back.
*The garish Honda Civic Type R with its horrendous body kit avoids the ignominy of the title by the skin of its teeth, if only because of its amazing performance credentials.
Trent Nikolic – from the show floor
Hit: It’s boring, I know, but the winner for me has to be the Porsche GT3 RS. What a nasty piece of work it is.
It was a close-run thing, too, with the Cayman GT4 and Lamborghini Aventador SV rating high mentions, but the GT3 RS is every bit the highly tuned Porsche evolution. If the overall styling package doesn’t slap you in the face, the subtle details will catch your eye. Porsche continues to show how the ultimate tuned version of a flagship model should be.
Miss: Aston Martin, what are you doing? The DBX Concept is a hideously ugly styling exercise gone wrong.
Regardless of what the company tried to tell us at the show, it is an SUV … just not an attractive one. If you’re trying to prove you can build a good looking SUV, this is a massive fail. It’s all wrong. If you’re trying to prove you can’t build an SUV, you’ve done well. Aston seems to be heading into a void of comical styling and the DBX Concept tops the pile.
Hit: Aston Martin Vulcan. It’s hard not to get too excited when Aston Martin reveals a new sports car, let alone a track-only GT that looks like this. Even at its asking price of a cool 1.5 million pounds ($2.9 million), all 24 examples are all but spoken for.
Better still is the likely prospect that the next-generation of Aston Martins will take their key styling cues from the Vulcan and that, my fellow enthusiasts, can’t come soon enough.
Miss: Aston Martin DBX Concept. I agree, it’s highly irregular for my hit and miss to be from the same motor show stand, but in this case, I believe it’s warranted.
It’s not like Aston doesn’t have a few very tasty GT cars in its line-up; the DB9 and the new Vanquish are two of the most beautiful GT cars ever made. But if Aston wants to join the super sports SUV club, then I suspect the DBX concept will have difficulty in finding favour up against examples such as the stunning four-door Lamborghini Urus.
Hit: Seat 20V20 concept. There were so many contenders this year for my pick of the show — I loved the look of the Suzuki i-M4 baby SUV that will replace the Jimny, and I couldn’t help but be perplexed by the Aston Martin DBX, and surprised at just how good the Kia Sportspace looked in pictures.
But my number one pick has to be the Seat 20V20 concept SUV. It is perhaps the most complete looking SUV I’ve seen in the mid-sized segment. It looks so entirely well thought out – the headlights, the angles, the haunches – and nothing looks out of balance.
I can’t help but think this is very similar to the Jeep Cherokee in terms of its profile and chunky stance, but if our previous report on the fact Seat is looking at coming to Australia with the production version of this bad boy as its poster child, I think they could be in for some success.
Miss: Skoda Superb. I had expected so, so much of the new-generation Skoda Superb when the brand showed off the VisionC concept. This was supposed to be the car that changed the way Skoda was seen in the market: a sleek four-door-coupe-style executive car with sharp, heavily stylised lines that would make people look at it and go: “Wow, that’s a Skoda?!”.
Instead, the Superb large car shown off at Geneva makes me think “Yep, that’s a Skoda!”. It isn’t ugly — by no means would you call it that — but I think the public was lead to believe the production car would be far more dramatic than it actually ended up being in the metal. Perhaps the seemingly endless run of teasers prior to the unveiling didn’t help…
Okay, we’ve known the Focus RS has been in the works, but with 235kW, 433Nm and all-wheel drive, this Ford looks to be a proper Golf R rival. Likewise the Civic Type R with 231kW and 400Nm going through the front wheels (and presumably a best-ever front-drive Nurburgring lap time).
I also love the way both of them look, one pumped-up Euro, the other all Manga and origami lines. Welcome back Honda and thank you again Ford!
Miss: BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. In the automotive world a brilliant idea only exists if it makes money, so let’s just say the 2 Series Gran Tourer would want to make the Bavarians a helluva lot of money. There is nothing wrong with an intelligently packaged, roomy and efficient seven-seat people mover.
BMW has proven it knows how to make brilliant drivetrains in recent years, and even if it has to slaughter sacred cows and go front-wheel drive then, sure, most loyalists could probably cope.
But the way this stretched, google-eyed, tall-boy BMW looks is just horrific, embedding deep concerns about what the Sheer Driving Pleasure brand has in store for the future and where exactly it is going.
Hit: The Porsche 911 GT3 RS is everything I want a wild, wide body 911 to be and has now replaced the existing GT3 RS at the top of my “when I win the lottery” shopping list… but the real star of the show for mine was the Kia Sportspace concept.
For a mainstream brand to showcase a stunning wagon as a vision of things to come is fantastic and to know that we may very well see this car on the road soon as the Optima Estate is even better.
Miss: Opel Karl. To be the newest small car from a powerhouse player, you’d undoubtedly expect – in 2015 – that it should be a little bit cool.
It’s no exotic but at this level, and from this manufacturer, we should get a funky design mated with some ‘now’ level consumer technology and personalisation… what we get is another by-the-numbers city car that looks like a 10-year-old Daewoo. The Karl will also be sold as the Vauxhall Viva in Europe … and we all remember the Holden (via Daewoo!) Viva, right?
Hit: Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6. It only dawned on me during a recent uber-luxury car test (Mercedes-Benz S600 vs Bentley Flying Spur – story coming soon) that Bentleys have unmatched road presence. Despite similar price tags, everywhere we drove, the Flying Spur would be the centre of attention above and beyond the S600.
But, unlike the Merecedes-Benz, Bentley uses ancient technology and is let down by a total lack of features and gadgets.
The Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 showcases a new design strategy for Bentley, but more importantly showcases a new interior that appears to use unique components, as opposed to Volkswagen parts bin materials. It’s this type of thinking that will bring Bentley in to the 21st century.
Miss: Koenigsegg Regera. I’m probably going to be hunted down and shot for saying this, but I reckon this is a miss.
Let’s start with the objective aesthetics. This thing is ugly, no two ways about it. While it’s incredibly fast, it joins the long line of super-hyper cars that were built to challenge the almighty Bugatti Veyron. Although a great deal of these cars exceed the Veyron’s top speed, not one of them is as usable or practical as the Veyron.
The Veyron truly lacks a realistic competitor that manages to match or surpass it — an impressive feat considering how long it has been out for.
Hit: Nissan Sway concept. As a long-time fan of the Suzuki Jimny, I can’t deny that I was almost compelled to choose the Suzuki i-M4 as my Geneva show favourite. But alas, I was — dare I say — “swayed” to pick the futuristic looking Nissan Sway concept.
At four metres long, and with bright orange highlights and always cool suicide doors, the Sway, which should morph into a replacement for the current Nissan Micra, looks like something I’d want to drive.
Miss: BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. For those who are already not huge fans of its first-ever 2 Series Active Tourer, BMW brings you the 2 Series Gran Tourer — it’s the seven-seat minivan no one asked for, and it boasts benign looks and cargo capacity from 645 up to 1905 litres.
Luckily, at last report, BMW Australia says it doesn’t currently see a need for the car in its local showrooms. Phew…
Hit: The Kia Sportspace, with elegant but aggressive looks, and no short measure of practicality, hits almost all of my automotive sweet spots. Just as importantly, after the disappointing amorphous blob that was the Hyundai Genesis-derived K9/K900 sedan, I was beginning to worry that Kia’s design department had lost its way. Thankfully, the attractive Carnival MPV has restored my faith.
As a side note, I was very tempted to nominate the Nissan Sway and the Suzuki iM-4. I fear that, as both become production ready, cost pressures will strip away many of their beautiful design details. Hopefully, with more pricing latitude and a desire to attract European customers, the Sportspace to Optima wagon transformation won’t see too much lost.
Miss: Honda Civic Type R. The performance figures suggest that this will be one mighty hot hatch and, thanks to the use of a turbo, it won’t live in the land that torque forgot.
With their smoothly flared fenders, brilliant paint, hunkered-down wide-tracked stance, and a rear wing that was wonderfully integrated into both the body work and the tail-lights, the concept cars had me drifting off into a sepia-toned reverie when Honda was like the everyman’s BMW.
The production car, on the other hand, is a victory of function over form. The disappointment here is akin to what many felt when the WRX Concept gave to the WRX reality. Maybe some car companies should employ the mantra of under promise over deliver, or just not promise at all. If the new Type R had no concept car antecedents, maybe we’d all be raving.
Does your assessment of this year’s Geneva show chime with ours? Let us know (politely, of course) in the comments section below.